By Michelle Brooks
Some of us say Nothing is keeping me here, although we do not leave. We have two bars and a theater that plays movies that opened somewhere else last year. Our parents own the town or work for those who do or don’t work at all. Our high school boyfriends bought us mums for homecoming, the flowers adorned with streamers and glitter that spells out our names. After graduation, the chosen vanish to colleges we have seen in brochures, but the population sign at the edge of town never changes.
We work at places where nothing changes until the doors shut for good. We fall in love. We have children. We cheat and repent. Our streets are adorned with signs we stopped seeing years ago. We get lonely and don’t know why. How can we be lonely when we know everyone?
The faithful departed return at homecoming or Christmas or on a random Wednesday with significant others in tow, buying water or milk or a Kit Kat. They stop at the convenience store and squint under the bright lights. We duck behind displays of beer, avoiding small talk that always ends with You’re still here. We don’t age, although we place classifieds that say, Lordy, Lordy look who is forty! We go to church, even though some of us have fallen away and forget to hide our lapses. We don’t die, although the graveyard is full.
Once a plane crashed into a power line, leaving nothing behind except a strip of charred earth, two sets of teeth, and the pilot’s watch, still ticking, a bomb that will never detonate. Is this what the end of the world looks like? An explosion in the sky instead of waiting rooms and laundromats and standing in the Ten Items or Less line at the Safeway to buy the one thing we forgot?
For an hour, most of us couldn’t turn on the lights, the computer, the television, the radio. We pushed our strollers out to the crash site even though we knew that the rumors were true. They always are. The local radio station that urges us to stay tuned went silent. Most of us had lost our power that morning, and we wanted to see why.
– Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press). She enjoys photography and watching the Detroit Pistons.